Hormuz Tanker War Lays Bare the Limits of US Power

The US doesn't want to be anywhere near the Hormuz kill zone, doesn't have the ships if it did, and can't find allies to do it instead

Consider this news from last week:

US Finds Allies Resistant to Call for Persian Gulf Fleet

With Germany having formally ruled out joining a US-led naval operation in the Persian Gulf, the Trump Administration is continuing to find little interest in the plan, with few nations seeing the merits of the idea, and many seeing getting involved as potentially making matters worse.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Admiral Michael Gilday, who is nominated to be the top admiral in the Navy, said that the idea of the fleet is that the US would be in charge, and foreign ships would do 80% to 90% of the work for them. It’s understandable why that sounds good for the US, and also understandable why no one else wants to be involved.

Since then the UK — after failing to attract any EU states for its own fleet separate from the Americans — has reluctantly joined the US one.

No other powers have joined nor are any likely to.

Obviously that in itself already shows the limit of US diplomatic clout over its desired auxiliaries.

More than that why does the DoD ideally want foreigners to provide upwards of 80 percent of the ships?

The first reason is that the US Navy doesn’t have the ships. Between the ships on maintenance at home (which is more and more rarely accomplished on schedule) and the ships it has doing all kinds of other things all over the world it doesn’t have the forces it would need in the first place.

Secondly, what forces it could send into the Strait of Hormuz it is reluctant to do so because if the war Bolton and CENTCOM want breaks out a narrow strait lined with Iranian missiles (possibly augmented by Russian ones) that the Persians have been meticulously laying down for two decades is the worst place for a ship to be.

When that war comes you want to be on the high seas at least 300 kilometers from the Iranian shore, not a fish in a Pepsi can.

Subscribe
Notify of
guest
3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

thomas malthaus
thomas malthaus
3 months ago

While the Brits cobble together what naval dysfunction remains of that former empire, the hundred or so tankers and freighter traveling daily through the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf are pondering the escalating marine insurance.

If a given marine insurer has one customer with perhaps ten to fifteen tankers within the Persian Gulf simultaneously, what would be the odds of that insurer dropping coverage on those ships if and when a naval confrontation breaks out and escalates? I would say relatively high. The next question relates to the owners operating said tankers without insurance and assuming that risk- if that’s even possible. A bank lender wouldn’t agree to that as part of loan terms. How many ships are owned free and clear? I doubt many.

The alternative is more than a few ships sit in port or travel to other destinations. The Red Sea might be an option with Saudi oil, but that becomes problematic with Saudi involvement in any US-UK operation near Iran. The Saudis in some way would pay dearly. Let the imagination wander.

The worst case scenario might involve Russia and China’s involvement where the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf have become difficult for tankers and freighters to transit that only smaller cargo ships might have transit rights. A seemingly inconceivable situation where three or four referees control marine flows, however long this period.

Naturally, marine insurance costs would escalate as would oil prices and global commerce has come to a crawl.

Should this scenario not come to pass, then normal conditions where this will occur anyway, a cui bono moment exists when loans defaults on marine tankers means the banks, if able, are forced to sell them at severe discount.

Are their a number of billionaires viewing this scenario and trying to engineer it? Perhaps giving it a thought or two. Or a US-led globalist scheme. He who owns the tankers controls the oil? A similar line or corollary involves gold and making rules.

This seems to be the world we’re living in.

John C Carleton
John C Carleton
3 months ago

First, there is a hidden hand behind the curtain.
But many on the world stage are so ignorant of reality, they do not understand this.

But, philosophy is an interesting exercise.
At what point, does the aging bully, come to understand, his day is done?
Stronger, hungrier boys out there now lookin to make a name, the ones the over the hipster bully has bullied over for years, when they see you go down, start loosing a few fights, what then?
What place will then serve as a hiding place from those the over the hipster bully, has wronged.

Many an animal will take on a lion, a wolf, when they are old down and sick, they would not when that animal was in their prime.

Always a pitiful sight to see an aging beast fail to understand the order of Nature.

John Rourke
John Rourke
3 months ago

End of an Empire is never Pretty.

Anti-Empire